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About Looking
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2009
Nearly all of John Berger's books are worth five stars, in my opinion (the exceptions being a couple of his early novels). I wasn't thinking of writing a review of "About Looking", but the sheer inanity of the other review provoked me into doing so. (It's not Berger's fault that the other reviewer didn't bother to find out what this book was about before buying it.)

"About Looking" is a selection of essays mostly about artists and photographers, although there are also some classic pieces of sui generis critical-historical meditation, such as the extraordinary "Field". Most of these essays date from the late 60s and early 70s, when Berger was in a period of transition; he had left England for good and was relocating himself and his family in rural France, where he still lives. This was also the period of his controversial Booker-winning novel "G.", his most commercially successful work of fiction (although I personally prefer his later novels).

Among the pieces included here are his justly famous essay on August Sander's 1914 photograph of three young German farmers going to a country dance, as well as superb essays on Magritte, Rouault, Courbet and De Stijl. One of my personal favourites is his provocative comparison of the work of Francis Bacon with the cartoons of Walt Disney. It makes more sense than it sounds, and you'll never watch Goofy the same way again.

Not the least value of this book is that it does, in fact, contain a lot of valuable information about "why we are more attracted to certain things"; Berger as an art critic is distinguished by being far more attentive to human needs and desires than most of his peers.

An essay by Berger contains more thought than most writers can fit into a book. This is perhaps not the best place to start if you want an overview of Berger the critic; that would be the brilliant "Selected Essays", beautifully edited by Geoff Dyer. But once you start reading Berger, only the very dim or very right-wing don't get hooked. He is an inspiration.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2010
John Berger is never boring, even when he deals with very complex issues. He manages to examine things we take for ganted, like animals, and make us look at them in entirely different ways.

His essays on different painters are the same... he takes an entirely different viewpoint from everyone else and opens our eyes to physical, psychological and philisophical aspects of an artist's work. He involves himself intimately and emotionally with everything he views and manages to transmit his feelings of awe and delight to us with great skill.

Read this, its a different way of seeing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2013
If you are into art and photography, this is an absolutely an essential book to read and re read literally an eye opener
If you believe that photography is more than just pressing the trigger or making "selfies"
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2011
John Berger is a credit to humanity, and in these stimulating chapters has urged us to look again , in fresh ways, at both nature and artifacts. If appropriate,we should, of course, in the poet's words, stand and stare.
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on 17 December 2013
Brilliant! I love everything John Berger writes.; original and thought provoking. I have recommended and bought this book for friends.
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on 11 March 2015
This is a classic for photographers.GIft to my son who was well pleased. Good condition too.
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on 8 December 2014
Prompt service, well pleased.
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on 10 February 2015
very good condition
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4 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2009
I hoped to find an essay about the reason we are more attracted to certain things, but I was wrong. The book is a collection of short essays by John Berger about certain specific occasions, not a generic one.
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